Teaching Together at Lake Logan - A Dialogue Between Alice Ballard and Janice Mason Steeves

• Wednesday, July 26, 2017 •

It's always stimulating for me to connect two artists who will teach workshops at the same event. I enjoy putting together artists that share a common thread; in their work, their philosophy of teaching, their subjects or with their materials they use. In planning the upcoming October 25 - 30 Lake Logan Workshops-Retreat with Ceramic Artist, Alice Ballard and Painter, Janice Mason Steeves, we have planned some collaborative sessions when both teacher's classes will learn together from these master artists. Lake Logan is such a choice location for these two artists to teach together. They each consider nature and place in their personal work as you will read in their dialogue below

Janice Mason Steeves in her Studio

JANICE: I'm looking forward to teaching a workshop at Lake Logan in North Carolina from October 25th-30th alongside Alice Ballard. Alice is a ceramic sculptor. You can see her work here:

Although we are teaching separate workshops, we will work together for part of each day, so students will have some experience with both teachers.  Our workshops are called: Considering the Natural World as Source.

Alice, I'd like you to tell me a little about your work and how you teach.

Alice Ballard in her Studio

ALICE:  I am so excited to be working along side Janice Mason Steeves. You can see Janice’s work here:   Not only do I see wonderful opportunities to share what I will be teaching to her class but I get to be a student as well, as I learn about how Janice works with cold wax and oils along with the source of her ideas and inspiration! This is the richest of all ways to teach and to learn.  

In answer to Janice’s question I would say my work is a reflection of my relationship with natural forms. These forms come to me on walks in my garden, hikes, the grocery store or appear as gifts from friends who share my fascination with the beauty inherent in Nature’s abundant variety of forms. It is often the metamorphosis of nature’s forms, as they change from season to season, that attracts me. I am endlessly drawn to that universal world in which differing life forms share similar qualities.

Alice Ballard - Ceramic Wall Pod

As for my teaching style, I encourage everyone to take a deep breath, slow down, to be “open” to the possibilities... Creating art should be a joyful and fun experience or process, an experience which is all about learning to work with your medium and to open your senses to all the possibilities without fear of taking a chance...It is the process after all that is at the heart of art making that drives our ideas forward... 

Janice, my question to you is how you have come to choose cold wax on oils as your avenue for self-expression?

Janice Mason Steeves - Painting, Oil-Cold Wax Medium

JANICE: I came to cold wax medium at the same time I was moving into abstraction. I had been painting representationally for 25 years, and felt my work needed to change. I found Rebecca Crowell’s work in cold wax and oil in Santa Fe and contacted her about taking a workshop with her. She had just started teaching at that point. I was delighted to meet her and to take her workshop. The medium spurred me into working abstractly, especially because the main tool Rebecca used was a 6” bowl scraper, which meant making large shapes. The only trouble was that I had no idea how to paint abstractly. So, I bought books on the foundations of art and design, and gradually taught myself. I developed a workshop to help students learn about the structure of abstract painting much more quickly than I did. So I teach the fundamentals of abstraction, along with techniques of cold wax painting.

I also am influenced by the world around us, particularly landscape, and especially light. I try to incorporate that influence into my work in an abstract manner. I agree with you Alice that creating art should be a joyful experience and I encourage play. That’s how I begin each new series, by playing, trying out new ideas, experimenting. 

Reflection - Lake Logan, NC

For the joint sessions in our workshops, I’ll begin each morning with a short contemplative coming together. Then I'll ask students to sit outside for 20 minutes, quietly and separately, coming in at the end to do 4 quick, small paintings in oil and cold wax. At the end of the week, we’ll gather as a group to discuss the questions I ask the students to contemplate as they sit outside, and to look at the resulting work.

Tell us how you’ll teach your joint sessions, Alice?

ALICE: My plan for our combined classes is to close each day with participants making a small meditation bowl in clay.  The meditation bowls will be made by pinching a small amount of clay into a form.  The form the clay would take on would be in response to something meaningful encountered during the course of each day…...

JANICE: I'm very much looking forward to working with you Alice. I think this is a very exciting idea. I love the idea of working collaboratively for part of each day.

To find out more information about these workshops and to register, contact:


October=The Arts!

• Monday, October 06, 2014 •

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2014 as National Arts and Humanities Month.  I call upon the people of the United States to join together in observing this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs to celebrate the arts and the humanities in America”. (Read Entire Proclamation)

At Cullowhee Mountain ARTS we take time out during this important month to look back on the great events we hosted and take stock of those we are serving as a non-profit Arts Organization. It is also the time we invite the Arts community to join our “Arts Party” and become a member.

The Arts - 4 Great Reasons to "Get on Board"

• Tuesday, August 12, 2014 •

There are less than 10 more days left to purchase tickets for the Cullowhee Mountain Arts "Drawings for Art" annual fundraiser

For as little as $20 you have the opportunity to have your ticket drawn on August 21, and become the recipient of one or more pieces of art, generously donated by our 2014 Summer Faculty - all artists of national and international reputations. Wow!

...and you will be supporting Cullowhee Mountain ARTSthe non-profit committed to supporting the personal and professional development of every artist and writer, whatever their level, by providing the setting and facilities for intense learning, art making and writing -- all shared in community.

Here are 4 great reasons why supporting the arts is such an important and enriching thing to do:

1. Stimulates the Economy

Not only do patrons of the arts spend money on the event they are attending, but they also tend to spend an average of $24.60 per person per event at local shops and restaurants. Patrons often visit longer which in turn causes them to spend more money at local businesses because patrons of the arts seek out more culturally authentic experiences. If a successful art venue is created it will attract more new businesses, create new jobs, and support existing businesses. 

2. Improves Quality of Life

Having an active artistic community creates a more vibrant way of life for those in the surrounding areas and makes the community more attractive to both current and future residents and employees. Artistic influences increase academic performance, stimulate creative thinking, enhance problem solving skills, and encourage team building.

3. Healing Benefits

Art therapy is becoming more widely used and the use of art with patients has been shown to lead to shorter hospital stays. It also increases better pain management, improves mental health, and decreases use of medication. Even though Art Therapy is a very powerful tool,  just having access to art and creating art will result in a healthier, happier lifestyle. 

4. Social Impact 

Art bridges gaps between cultures, integrates people regardless of religion, ethnicity, and race. The impact art has on our social well being is incredible. Studies have shown that a community with a higher concentration of art has lower poverty rates, increased social cohesion, higher civic engagement, lower student drop out rates and higher GPA's. 

Sadly, the arts are not self-supporting!

In a wonderful article entitled "Giving Money to the Arts Does Not Make You Evil," Jennifer Rivera explains the importance of supporting the arts:

"In the United States, if people do not support the arts with charitable donations, not only will the arts not thrive, they cannot really exist. Art organizations already have little to no government support, but they cannot operate with standard business models in order to make a profit because that defeats the purpose of making something artistic as opposed to making something that is just commercial."

Please take a moment to support CMA - it is as easy as a click of this link and selecting the art work/s you would like to have in your home or office. 


Huffington Post

Nonprofit Quarterly


Partnership Movement

Americans for the Arts